If you’re worried about being hacked, then you’re right to be. According to some estimates, almost 90% of UK businesses are subjected to some sort of malicious cyber incident over the course of an average year.
It’s become even more of a challenge post-pandemic, as employees move from the (relatively) safe environment of an office to the rather less cyber-secure spare bedroom. Then there’s all that emerging tech, which inevitably attracts new types of criminals, intent on pick-pocketing crypto-wallets and getting up to mischief in the metaverse.
More cheeringly, it’s a great time to be one of the good guys, like Damon Rands, CEO of PureCyber Ltd. Rands founded the Cardiff-based company in 2011 and since then they have grown rapidly. To reflect that growth, the company recently completed a corporate rebrand (they were formerly known as Wolfberry) and moved into new offices at One Central Square in the heart of Cardiff’s vibrant new business district. PureCyber has been named Most Innovative Cyber Security Company in the UK and also Best International Cyber Security Consultancy Firm in the UK. They’ve developed a formidable excellence in their field, with a vast knowledge of the latest trends, technologies, and attack vectors.
“We’re a pure cyber security company, and we help businesses all over the planet to improve their cyber security,” says Rands. “Our goal is to make cyber security understandable, affordable and accessible to any organisation, no matter their size. We don’t get bogged down in providing IT services and fixing servers or installing firewalls. We concentrate purely on making sure that the systems that our clients have are secure.”
PureCyber generally begin with a full cyber audit, in which they look at their clients’ vulnerabilities. As part of this, they often try to hack their clients, probing their systems to find weaknesses (“It’s the most fun part of the job,” says Rands). Set a thief to catch a thief, as they say. Once they’ve identified a client’s needs, PureCyber devise a plan to protect them with a suite of services designed to strengthen their cyber security posture.
PureCyber are part of a flourishing cyber ecosystem in Wales. According to the National Digital Exploitation Centre, the Welsh cyber industry employs over 45,000 people and contributes more than £8bn a year to the Welsh economy.
The Cyber Wales group has more than 2,000 members, who gather to exchange information and share best practice. The group also works closely with the spooks at GCHQ and the MoD, as well as the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).
There’s a lot of connectivity and collaboration between Wales-based companies, sharing knowledge not just about the techie stuff, but also the nuts-and-bolts of running a successful cyber business: finance, revenue streams, skills and training.
“Cyber security in Wales is a really vibrant sector,” says Rands. “We’ve got all kinds of industries here, and massive data creators like the ONS and DVLA, and all forms of energy development with the technology around that. So it’s a great playground for developing cyber security technologies.”
It also helps to have global cyber players like Thales, Airbus, General Dynamics and Alert Logic, who all have a major presence in Wales.
“Those guys are vital,” says Rands. “When blue-chip companies come in, they really improve the ecosystem. Competition is where innovation is bred. It accelerates innovation and keeps you on your toes.”
Welsh universities have responded by creating centres of cyber excellence, producing world-class research, and a steady stream of graduates with the specialist skills the sector demands. Industry and academia form intimate partnerships, working together to tackle real-world problems, as well as creating the free-thinking conditions that open unexpected doors, leading to breakthroughs we haven’t yet dreamed of.
The multinationals are heavily involved in R&D in collaboration with Welsh universities, and the home-grown companies play their part, too: PureCyber runs its own academy, which works with universities to produce scores of work-ready students every year.
Rands says, “The cyber security sector has really accelerated, so for PureCyber recruitment is key. We’ve gone from four employees in 2018-19 to 22 employees now, and we are constantly looking for talent. The PureCyber Academy is a great way of bringing younger people and career changers from a variety of backgrounds into the vibrant cyber sector to hit the ground running with us, which is fantastic.”
None of this has happened by accident, by the way. It’s all part of Welsh Government’s strategy to help drive the creation of one of the most sophisticated cyber security ecosystems in Europe, enabling, encouraging and supporting multinationals, start-ups and academic expertise.
Rands says, “The agile support Welsh Government are able to give companies is amazing, from incubation to advice and guidance and mentoring. Anything they can do to support us, they will do, so we’ve always found them vital as a partner.
“We’re a Welsh company and we always will be a Welsh company. It’s just a great place to develop technology.”